Bryan Cave searches for UK merger partner

After electing a new chairman, US firm Bryan Cave has set its sights on securing a UK merger partner.
Bryan Cave, a national firm, is seeking a full-service City practice with European offices.

The firm has elected St Louis-based partner and vice-chairman Don Lents to succeed Walter Metcalfe as chairman.

Lents has a year-long transition period to scale down fee-earning work before 64-year-old Metcalfe steps down in October 2004. The transition period will also allow Metcalfe to become more actively involved in fee-earning after spending two five-year terms at the helm.

Bryan Cave merged with New York firm Robinson Silverman in July 2002 and once that is bedded down and Lents has inherited the chairmanship, the firm will turn its attentions to the UK and Europe.

The firm launched its London office in 1982 with Lents in charge, practising only US law until 1999, when current resident manager Charles Attlee joined from Druces & Attlee to launch a UK capability.

The London office now has 10 partners and around 30 fee-earners. London is one of the offices that the firm has prioritised for growth, along with Washington DC and Chicago.

The priority for a potential UK merger partner is its strength in London, but it is understood that any firm which has offices in Europe would be a considerable bonus too.